Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours Highlight: Stopover to Kota

While Indonesia’s capital is powering ahead with global industrialization and modernization, Kota, its oldest town, remains to be the top traveler highlight especially in Jakarta. With a glimpse to Jakarta’s historical background before the busy streets and skyscrapers, Kota is a home of Indonesia’s colonial culture.

Kota is the Indonesian word for "city", a reminder that the walled settlement which was once called Batavia had been importance as it had been the capital city of the Dutch East Indies in the 17th – 19th century. This inner city contrasted with the surrounding kampung (villages), orchards, and rice fields. According to the statistics review, It spans 1.3 square kilometers of North Jakarta and West Jakarta (Kelurahan Pinangsia, Taman Sari and Kelurahan Roa Malaka, Tambora). The largely Chinese downtown area of Glodok is a part of Kota.

In 1600s, Kota was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company and is dubbed as the “Jewel of Asia” and “Queen of the East”. Not all of the buildings, though, have been protected as well as they should have been, unfortunately, but wandering through the streets and the main square give an impression of the European settlement that started Jakarta on the path to becoming one of the largest cities on the planet which indeed happened as the city now houses 28 million diversified individuals, scammers, legit and fraud Indonesians.

Set off on a walking tour at Kota Intan bridge (also known as Chicken Market Bridge). Constructed by the Dutch in the 17th century, the wooden drawbridge extends over the Kali Besar canal, and would have been raised to accommodate merchant ships. The last remaining bridge of its kind, it is no longer raised, and can’t be crossed by pedestrians – its planks are in disrepair – but there is talk of a renovation project. For now, it’s worth a visit to witness a rare monument to the city's Dutch colonial era.

As the years have grown by, many of the historical buildings and architectures have been deteriorating but many of the old building have been restored to their former glory. With the help from various nonprofit organizations, private institutions, and governmental projects, the step towards rejuvenating Batavia is on its way to restore Jakarta’s legacy. In 2007, several streets surrounding Fatahillah square such as Pintu Besar street and Pos Kota street, were closed to vehicles as a first step towards the rejuvenation. Since 2014 the old town has a brighter future with the ambitious JOTR project to restore Old Batavia's architecture and putting the site on the UNESCO heritage list.

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